Fall Is the Perfect Time to Focus on Training & Certification

Going into the fall and winter months, many industry professionals turn to training and education to beef up their knowledge base and stay on top of the latest developments in products and technology. Cooler weather also spells a potentially opportune time to consider certification.

To prepare for a Landscape Industry Certified Technician-Exterior exam, as offered by state and provincial association licensees, contractor Michael Becker says, "You might want to get a head start by studying the recommended technician training manuals well in advance to take advantage of any downtime you experience in your schedule.” Becker is the owner of Estate Gardeners Inc. in Elkhorn, NE. A Landscape Industry Certified Manager, Becker is also PLANET's International Certification Council Chair.

Becker warns that certification is not an overnight process. “You need to determine which of the seven PLANET programs is best for you and your crew, and then register, study, and take the exam to earn your designation. For most PLANET certifications, you have up to three years after registering for an exam to study and pass.”

Insight into the Horticultural Technician program. Skip Thompson, a Landscape Industry Certified Manager & Technician with Tidewater Landscape Management in Columbus, GA, says one certification you might want to aim for this fall and winter is the Horticultural Technician program.

“I took this exam about a year after I passed the Lawn Care Manager exam administered by the University of Georgia," Thompson relates. "It was an excellent complement to the Lawn Care certification and gave me a well-rounded understanding of plant and tree care. I still use the study guide as a reference tool today.”

The recommended study guide is titled, "The Principles of Landscape Tree & Shrub Maintenance." Highlights include:

  • Plant physiology
  • Woody ornamental identification
  • The importance of soils
  • Plant establishment
  • Placement, delivery and awareness factors of fertilizers
  • Plant health care management
  • Property maps
  • Insect and disease identification
  • Physiological or cultural problems
  • Chemical injury
  • Troubleshooting
  • Safety in tree and shrub application methods

Karen Barnett is PLANET’s director of certification and has been involved in Green Industry association management for 15 years. She is staff liaison to PLANET’s International Certification Council and is a member of the Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE), as well as the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE).